Updated January 2021

Evolving health guidance provided by the CDC and Public Health Departments will take precedent over the information provided here. We recommend monitoring these authoritative sources regularly.

Since the beginning of the Food Bank’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, planning and building strategies for the impact of the crisis on the community we serve has been a top priority. We’re continuing to follow the guidance of the CDC and the state of North Carolina. Some of the precautions we’re undertaking specific to COVID-19, (on top of our standard, daily, safety and hygiene processes) are shared near the bottom of this page. The Food Bank is committed to serving those in need, and we’re very thankful for the trust that’s placed in us.

Find Food

📍 Anyone in our 34-county service area who needs help with food can visit foodbankcenc.org/findhelp and use our Food Finder to search our partner agency network for their local food pantry.

🗺 Live outside our service area? Find your local food bank here.

Where is my local pantry?
 
  

4 Ways To Help

There is a long road ahead, and the Food Bank is here for the long haul. We will need resources to continue enacting the strategies we know work to end hunger. Here’s how you can help:

💲 DONATE FUNDS
As we try and meet the nearly 40% increase in need this pandemic has created in our communities, funds are the resource we need most. Financial donations allow us to stay nimble and responsive in our operations as conditions change, and to reach new people with our efforts. 

📱 INVOLVE FRIENDS
Want to mobilize your neighborhood, church group, or other circle of friends? Holding a Virtual Food Drive is a great way to help – while practicing social distancing. We even re-launched our Virtual Food Drive platform. Visit foodbankcenc.org/vfd to set yours up today.

🗣 USE YOUR VOICE
Research the policies that impact hunger and speak out! Contact your state, local, and federal representatives to let them know policies like SNAP, TEFAP, and WIC need to be strengthened in order to break the cycle of hunger and help relieve families of the burden of hunger. Visit foodbankcenc.org/advocacy to learn more.

⌚ DONATE TIME
The Food Bank greatly relies on our volunteers, especially in times of crisis. If you are a healthy adult and want to volunteer, you can self-schedule a shift at foodbankcenc.org/volunteer

I want to donate
Virtual Food Drive
Advocacy & Policy
I’m healthy & want to volunteer

“The Food Bank appears to be one of the most effective and efficient non-profit organization that I’ve donated to. I am frequently amazed by your ability to serve the community, particularly during this difficult time.”  -Donor

 
  

Working To Meet The Increased Need

38%

38% increase of neighbors in need across our service area, because of COVID-19

49%

49% increase of kids & teens in need across our service area, because of COVID-19

The urgent need of the people in our 34 counties has been unprecedented—and so has the Food Bank’s response. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 547,720 individuals, families, and seniors in central and eastern North Carolina facing hunger. This includes 169,770 children and teens, who did not always know when their next meal would be. These numbers were down significantly from what we knew for 2016, when nearly 600,000 people were facing hunger in our 34 counties. Our strategies for nourishing people, building solutions, and empowering communities were working to break the cycle of hunger! Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, a new study from Feeding America projects the number of food-insecure neighbors in our service area to grow by 38%, including 49% growth for children and teens. That means approximately 756,320 people (1 in 5 people) may face hunger in 2020, including 253,570 children (1 in 3 children).

Even with a 38% increase in need, and despite food supply chain challenges unlike any we’ve seen in the Food Bank’s 40 year history, we’ve been able to distribute a record amount of food to the community thanks to our network of partner agencies. These efforts and impacts would not be possible without the incredibly generous support of our donors. They reached out immediately to find out what was needed, and thanks to their generosity, we are able to keep the level of food going to our partner agencies consistent. We've also received support from federal and state government resources for programs, food, and funds. We’re very grateful to have the trust of this community to address the urgent need for hunger relief.

COVID-19 demand vs. resources

The need is great and we are working across all phases of the food system to meet the increased need. In calendar year 2020, the Food Bank distributed a record 100 million meals. This includes 191,146 family-sized food boxes. It took an incredible amount of resources, support, and partnership to get this done. The Food Bank set a new org record for food monthly food distribution for five consecutive months: April, May, June, July, and August 2020. In September 2020, six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, we distributed twice as much food as we had in September 2019.

With food supply chain challenges leading to fewer donations, the Food Bank has had to expend over $8M dollars since the start of the pandemic to keep food distributions consistent. Some of the food we are purchasing is pre-packed food, both shelf stable and produce, so that we are less reliant on large groups of volunteers to pack family-size food boxes, as cases of COVID-19 continue to spike. With the changes to federal nutrition programs like CFAP, SNAP, and TEFAP in sight, we know that expending more funds could be necessary. Even now, lead times for getting purchased food to the Food Bank are still 4-6 weeks, so the planning and logistics are very important. These food purchases are helping us strive to meet the 38% increase of need in our community.

$0
During COVID-19, we’ve spent over $8 million on food…
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…eight times our typical annual food purchase budget.

The Food Bank has hired 20 temporary staff to support our shift to more contact-free food distribution for our partner agencies, and we’ve rented an additional 4 trucks and 10 trailers to support distribution of more fresh foods to our partners. We’ve been thankful to have the support of the North Carolina National Guard through most of the pandemic to bolster our operation, in lieu of our ability to have large groups of volunteers. We’ve also relied on staff and volunteers to deliver monthly food boxes to seniors’ homes and to help operate Kids Summer Meals sites when kids are no longer receiving school meals. In 2020 our free Kids Summer Meals program began ran for 21 weeks from March-August, beginning service two months ahead of a typical schedule. We sponsored 76 sites across 20 counties and served 287,514 meals to over 8,500 kids.

Additional staff members have been trained and shifted focus to benefits outreach services to support the large increase in community members seeking federal nutrition benefits like SNAP. We also recently launched a call center, staffed by folks in Workforce Development programs, to help people with the process of signing up for federal nutrition programs. Prior to COVID-19, the average number of referrals per month to the SNAP program (also known as Food and Nutrition Services – FNS, or food stamps) was approximately 180. The number of people seeking referral assistance doubled from March-June, with a peak of 624 people seeking SNAP support in the month of April. In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, 3,600 people were receiving SNAP benefits, after getting help applying from our benefits outreach team.

 
  

More Resilient Together

The response to the COVID-19 crisis has been very different from a weather-based natural disaster. However, just like the storms we’ve faced in the past, we know the devastating impact is long-lasting and the need for increased hunger-relief support will continue for months.

The Food Bank has been very fortunate, and strategic, in our ability to offer support to other organizations and elements of the food system during this time of crisis. Some organizations we’ve been able to expend resources to help include: filling school meal gaps with school districts across the state, assisting other North Carolina food banks, supporting local farmers and growers, and building infrastructure capacity of organizations focused on reaching populations who have been marginalized.

COVID-19 is impacting communities and populations of people that were already made vulnerable to hunger by inequitable policies and structures. Children, older residents, people working in the agriculture, hospitality, or travel and leisure industries, the Latinx community, and the Black community are all facing food insecurity at even higher rates than before the pandemic. One of the things the Food Bank has done in response to natural disasters and the COVID-19 crisis, is increase our partnership with organizations that are reaching those people who have been marginalized. Some of the new partners we are working with and learning from, to reach more people, include: AMEXCAN, Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, Guatemalan Consulate, Manos Unidas, Meals on Wheels, Mexican Consulate, NC Works, UNCW